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National School of Development at PKU Holds Symposium in Memory of Gary Becker




On July. 3rd, 2014, National School of Development (NSD) at Peking University held a special symposium in memoriam of Dr. Gary S. Becker. He was professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago, and was awarded with Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992. The symposium was hosted by National School of Development, inviting scholars from Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Hanqing Advanced Institute of Economics and Finance at Renmin University of China, to have an in-depth discussion from the perspectives of human capital and family, as well as social mobility.

Dr. Justin Yifu Lin, the Honorary Dean of NSD, started the symposium by introducing Dr. Gary Becker’s biography and academic achievements. As the foremost exponent in the study of human capital and one of the pioneers in the domain of economics, Dr. Gary Becker can be credited as the most influential scholar for his contribution to the expansion of economic study in modern times.

Dr. Justin Lin recalled his study experience at the University of Chicago and frequent academic exchange with Dr. Gary Becker. “The important lesson I learned from Dr. Becker is that ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, Dr. Justin Lin said, “He taught us how to observe the real world with rational eyes and then try to explore the rationale behind the facts”.

The strict academic training and research methodology from Dr. Becker laid a solid foundation for Dr. Lin’s research and work later. When Dr. Lin worked at the Rural Development Research Center Under the State Council, his proposal suggested the government should examine and distinguish the complex and social and economic phenomenon and come up with effective solution to inflation. Years later, Dr. Becker also had given sincere input to the formation of New Structural Economics Theory during Dr. Lin’s term at the World Bank.

Another encounter with Dr. Gary Becker was during the 2011 Beijing Forum, as Dr. Justin Lin recalled. After delivering the keynote speech and discussing with Chinese fellow scholars on the roles of government and market in the economic development, Dr. Gary Becker expressed that he was really pleased to see the spirit of the University of Chicago is well inherited and preserved at NSD.

In addition, Dr. Justin Lin expressed his respect towards Dr. Gary Becker as an “upright scholar”. His research approach is always based on a keen observation of the real world phenomenon, which would also be beneficial for countries during the period of transition such as China. In the end, the conference attendants rose to observe one minute’s silence in memoriam of Dr. Gary Becker.

In the following discussion, guests and scholars had a lively discussion on topics such as human capital and family, pension reform and family education expenditure, the relation between marriage and other social phenomenon, as well as the mental health cost of One Child Policy. As the top research and educational institute on economics, National School of Development honored Dr. Gary Becker and his contribution to the field of economics with a high level academic meeting.